The offense of driving under the influence (DUI) was once the exclusive territory of alcohol. In this digital age, there are far more substances that can impair a driver's ability to operate their vehicle safety. Prescription and illegal drugs alike can have a potent effect on the driver's motor skills and cognition. DUI law, however, has struggled to keep pace with the changing faces of impairment and driving.
While the process to identify drivers under the influence of alcohol and charge them with a DUI offense is now standard practice through the use of sobriety field tests and breath or blood tests, the process for identifying driving under the influence of drugs is less standard and quite imperfect. For example, most of us know the 0.08 blood alcohol content level is the legal limit for alcohol consumption and driving. Experts, on the other hand, have struggled to create a similar "limit" to measure drug impairment, leading to unpredictability and inconsistency in the prosecution of DUI Drug charges.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs in or around Tupelo, Mississippi, you will need an aggressive, experienced Mississippi DUI attorney to review your charges and protect your rights in court. Contact William Wayne Housley, Attorney at Law today to discuss your case.
The Problems with DUI Drugs
Both illegal and legal drugs can result in a charge of DUI Drugs if a driver appears intoxicated and the police officer, with reasonable suspicion, believes the driver was driving while under influence of drugs. There are, however, problems with DUI Drug charges, and the below sections summarize the core of these problems.
Although people have been charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs, marijuana is arguably the drug that comes to mind when someone mentions this charge. Despite being certain that marijuana adversely affects the cognitive ability and reaction time of drivers, law enforcement has faced difficulty in deducing exactly how much of the drug needs to be in the driver's system to constitute impairment.
Traditional breath tests are rendered useless if the driver is under the influence of drugs because they are designed to detect ethyl alcohols. Blood and urine tests are the only reliable way of determining the presence of any drugs in the system. Even so, there are complications and challenges. Marijuana, for example, can stay in the system for a considerable amount of time after use. Lending to the possibility of a sober driver potentially being convicted of DUI Drugs because the substance was still in his or her system at the time of the arrest. Even if the driver was presently impaired by marijuana, experts may be able to measure the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the system but cannot concretely say what amount of THC impairs driving abilities. For alcohol, the almost universally accepted limit is a blood alcohol content of .08%.
In states where marijuana or medicinal marijuana is legal, some of those states have established by law a marijuana limit, but the science does not back it up. Regardless of or absence of a legal limit, marijuana for its recreational or medical purposes are both illegal in Mississippi, so any amount of marijuana or other illicit drugs in a driver's system can lead to drug charges, including DUI Drugs.
Scheduled illegal drugs, if there is evidence of use after a blood or urine test, will generally result in criminal charges no matter what. The mere presence of cocaine, heroin, meth or similar illegal drugs in a driver's system will still be prosecuted even in the absence of certainty about the driver's personal level of impairment at the time they were driving.
Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and prescription drugs are legal, but the problem remains: it is not easy to determine the exact point at which a driver becomes impaired. Drugs like Ambien and Xanax can significantly impair a driver's ability, and blood tests will show if either of these or other prescription drugs were in the driver's system. Drugs like cold and flu medicine can impair a driver, as well, and blood tests will also identify these OTC drugs in the driver's system.
Defenses to DUI Drugs
As in any DUI case, your defense attorney may be able to call the charges into question by showing that police did not follow protocol or in some way violated the rights of the suspect. There are also a number of defenses that could specifically apply to your DUI Drug charges, but it depends on the unique circumstances and facts of your case.
Comprehensive DUI Drugs Defense Lawyer in Mississippi
Given the complexity and marginal efficiency of DUI Drug laws across the United States and within Mississippi, it is imperative that you immediately speak with a skilled Mississippi DUI attorney with experience in drug charges if you have been charged. Innocent people have faced prosecution and some have been convicted because they lacked adequate and devoted legal counsel. Do not let this happen to you.
Contact William Wayne Housley today so that he can begin to scrutinize your charges and create a defense on your behalf.